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Rediscovering cycling at an inclusive Wheels for All session

Rediscovering cycling at an inclusive Wheels for All session
18th March 2019 Nazia White

 

Cycling on your time

28 year old Jennie Goodrum, who resides in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is currently looking for a solution to her cycling needs. Born with the condition Cerebral Palsy, Jennie is determined to continue her cycling journey which first began on a Tomcat trike at the rambunctious age of 11.

A bike that was fit for purpose for an 11 year old

Jennie had always been excited about the prospect of riding a bike, but due to her condition a standard two wheel bike just didn’t work for her. Jennie’s mother Desiree Goodrum, recalls the first time she took Jennie out on a two wheel bike with stabilisers:

“Jennie’s brothers were riding their bikes so we wanted Jennie to be able to experience cycling too. We chose a standard two wheel bike with stabilisers; unfortunately, we found out very quickly that it was not only unsafe for everyone but it needed two people either side of Jennie whilst she attempted to cycle –  it just wasn’t fit for purpose. So I sought the advice of Jennie’s physiotherapist and she suggested I contact Bob Griffin from Tomcat trikes who were based locally.”

At this point Tomcat had only been manufacturing trikes for about two years so Jennie’s trike was one of the first Tomcat trikes built! Once Bob assessed Jennie’s physical needs, he then designed a trike that would allow her to cycle safely, confidently and independently!

A trike that became a part of me

17 years later Jennie still remembers every detail about the day she first rode her Tomcat trike,

“I was so excited when I saw this big custard yellow trike that I was actually going to be able to ride. I had seen all the other kids in the neighbourhood riding their bikes around for a while so when I was able to join them with my trike, made especially for me, I was overjoyed!  I remember riding up and down our drive way for hours; my parents didn’t need to help me, so I felt as free as a bird.”

As the months passed, Jennie became more confident on her trike and started to use it at school for other sport activities, like playing rounders. As Jennie retells this story a huge mischievous grin explodes on her face:

“So I would attempt to hit the ball with my tennis racquet, and then I would drop the racquet in my basket and cycle round all the posts. Whatever the other kids did, I did too, often with a little creativity. Rounders was no exception! ”

Jennie also took her cycling proficiency test on her trike and received a Silver level certificate, she adds;

“The trike became a part of me, I took it everywhere and any day-to-day tasks that could be done riding my trike – I did! Cycling with other kids in my neighbourhood was also key to my enjoyment, I felt like I was included in an activity I could do and take pleasure in.”

As Jennie hit her mid teens she outgrew her custard yellow trike and the bike rides with the kids in the neighbourhood eventually stopped and so her trike was put away and eventually went into storage.

Rediscovering cycling at an inclusive Wheels for All session

Jennie prides herself in keeping active and fit and so whilst she stopped cycling she took part in other physical activities like indoor rock climbing, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

“I’ve always enjoyed keeping fit and healthy but to maintain the level of fitness you have is another story altogether. I was looking for an activity that I could not only do on my own but also enjoy as a form of exercise!”

Whilst working at Active Impact as a Research and Development Officer, Jennie was introduced to MaryClare, project leader at Leonard Cheshire’s local Wheels for All Sessions at Blackbridge and the Forest of Dean. Cycling Projects Wheels for All is the national inclusive cycling charity which works to enable all children and adults with disabilities and differing needs to engage in a quality cycling activity.

It was with the help and support of MaryClare that Jennie was able to enter the Superhero Tri event at Downey Lake 18 months ago. She used a recumbent trike and although it wasn’t a perfect fit, it did the job of allowing Jennie to cross the finish line and she said it was a ‘most joyous occasion!’

Furthermore, Jennie was able to take her much loved and much used Custard yellow Tomcat trike out of storage and donate it to WFA sessions, so others could experience the joy and thrill of cycling! Tomcat also agreed to service the trike free of charge and ensured it was safe for others to cycle as it was a whopping 17 years old!

Exercising regularly in your own time

The cycling sessions with Leonard Cheshire Gloucestershire Wheels for All has allowed Jennie to exercise regularly; she attends the Sunday sessions and she can already feel the difference in her muscle tone, strength, stamina and overall fitness and hence her general well-being. Not being able to attend for a while made Jennie realise how much benefit she gained from cycling.

“I didn’t do a lot last year due to one reason or another and I physically felt the difference. Going to the gym isn’t really an option for me because I find it boring and actually quite daunting. I decided then that it would be incredible to be able to cycle in my own time, in addition to the WFA sessions. So this got me thinking about purchasing my own trike.”

Future Talk

Jennie is able to ride on a recumbent (leg) trike as well as a hand cycle. She usually cycles up to five miles on each bike at every session for a full body exercise, but her favourite bike is definitely the hand cycle.

Now working for Inclusion Gloucestershire as a Project Coordinator, Jennie is hoping that she will be able to purchase a suitable bike with help, support and advice from MaryClare that will be:

  • Easy to store
  • Easy to ride
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Easy to manage and ride safely
  • Robust enough to carry shopping
  • Light and nimble enough to provide a means of transport around the town while also being suitable for longer cycles further afield

 

In short, Jennie needs another bike that will be ‘part of her’ and something that she can ‘take everywhere and be able to carry out day-to-day tasks’.

Jennie concludes,

“I hope a new bike will enable me to be much more independent and less reliant on others for local journeys, whilst getting lots of regular exercise in the process. A win-win situation by all accounts!”

And Finally, Jennie hopes to enter the Superhero Triathlon at Dorney Lake again in 2019, but this time on her own bike which will be a perfect fit!

 

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